18:08 | Ayabaca (Piura region), Nov. 20.
A specimen of Andean tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) —a species considered at risk of extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
— was sighted in the environmental conservation area known as "Paramos and cloud forests in Cachiaco and San Pablo, Pacaipampa," in Peru's northern region of Piura.
The sighting was possible thanks to camera traps that were set up a month ago in said environmental conservation area situated in Ayabaca Province, in the highland area of Piura.
The camera traps were set up by the Quiro Chira Water Fund, Nature and International Culture
, the Pacaipampa District Municipality, and local communities within the area of the environmental zone so as to monitor the fauna.
There are only five species of tapirs around the world, and two of them are found in Peru: the Andean (Tapirus pinchaque) and the Amazonian or sachavaca (Tapirus terrestris) tapir —both of sociocultural, biological, and economic relevance since pre-Columbian times in Peru.
The Andean tapir —also known as the mountain tapir or Tapirus pinchaque— is the smallest and perhaps the least studied of the two species of tapirs in Peru.
It inhabits montane forests and paramos of Colombia, Ecuador, and northern Peru —between 2,000 and 4,000 m.a.s.l. in Piura and Cajamarca regions.
In 2018, the National Forest and Wildlife Service (Serfor)
approved the National Conservation Plan for the Andean Tapir. The document estimates that there are 2,500 individuals within a range of 3,000 square kilometers of habitat available for this species between Colombia and northern Peru.
The Andean tapir is important as it is a potential seed disperser and key to maintaining the natural structure of high mountain ecosystems.
Studies have shown that it feeds on up to 264 species and is a potential disperser of at least 50 species of plants, thus providing adequate substrate to the soils it inhabits and generating trails for other animal species, hence its importance for high mountain ecosystems in northern Peru.
Moreover, given their important role in the ecosystem and wide home range, tapirs are considered as an "umbrella species" as their conservation can benefit many other species.